In a vote this morning, members of the Shelby County Commission Conservation Committee preliminarily approved a master plan for Shelby Farms designed by New York-based Field Operations firm.
The plan, which calls for one million trees and twelve park landscapes, will be voted on by the full commission on Monday, August 4th.
Highlights of the plan include improving park access with pedestrian and bike trails leading into the park, providing a Shelby Farms shuttle from the inner-city, and shielding the Walnut Grove from the park with a canopy of trees.
Patriot Lake will be expanded to allow for more boating and water activities. A small beach will be built on one end of the lake, and the park will allow swimming. A grassy, natural amphitheater will overlook Patriot Lake.
Much of the plan calls for enhancing existing structures without much construction, such as new playground and picnic equipment. The public gardens will be expanded, and the Agricenter will likely reserve some space for wind turbine and other alternative energy research in addition to the crop research already underway.
Commissioners Henri Brooks and Steve Mulroy expressed concerns about ensuring that inner-city kids have access to the park. Field Operations principal James Corner said church and school groups from across the city will be invited to assist in tree planting. Commissioner Sidney Chism said the beach area will also be a likely draw for inner-city kids who may not be able to afford to rent paddleboats or kayaks.
Commissioner James Harvey also suggested the plan include more lively entertainment programs.
"Theres not enough going on in Shelby Farms now to make a person want to drive twelve miles from downtown to look at a tree," said Harvey.
If approved by the full commission, the plan will be implemented in four phases with each phase taking about five years to complete. Phase one, which costs as estimated $80,000 to $1 million, includes expanding Patriot Lake, working out a MATA bus route into the park, tree planting, and enhancing existing trails. -- by Bianca Phillips